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Production of Rose's Heavenly Cakes Part 2

Apr 26, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose

Phase 5 April 2008 Photography
This is always my favorite moment in book production. It must be akin to a playwright getting to see her play enacted with a full cast of the characters she has envisioned. It's scary and thrilling at the same time.

This was the first session of what will probably be two, possibly three. But I doubt if we will repeat 10 days in a row of about 6 cakes a day. This was my first experience with professional digital food photography and what a fascinating process. Food stylist Liz Duffy brought two assistants and loads of ingredients and equipment.

Liz Primping the Cake for the Camera

A Small Sampling of the Groceries

Roy Finamore, a long time friend, who was one of the senior editors of Clarkson Potter is now a prop stylist. He contributed infinitely more than inspired props--he majorly participated in the over-all look of the photos, carefully considering how they should appear in relation to where they would be placed in the book.

Photographer Ben Fink repeatedly turned out such astonishingly beautiful photographs every day was a new surprise and joy. I brought my knitting and only succeeded in doing one row in 10 days. Every time I turned away from the set I regretted it as I found I needed to be present to ensure that the cakes reflected the recipes in the book. Liz is the most meticulous and devoted food stylist plus a former pastry chef but producing 6 or more photo worthy cakes a day was a challenge I myself could not have managed and I was grateful that my recipes were in good enough shape that there were no errors or time wasted due to mistakes. Still, we ended up with what was supposed to be an ice cream sandwich as an ice cream cake. It was so beautiful I rewrote the recipe to include both.

I learned several great tricks from Liz and her long time assistant Jan which I will include in the book. One was how to make the top of a cake baked in a fluted tube pan look as a perfect and without air pockets as much as possible. They filled the pans about one inch full with batter and then used the back of a spoon with a side to side motion to press the batter into the grooves of the pan before adding the remainder of the batter. Priceless! And what was poly grip denture cream doing on the baking cart? Turns out it's the perfect food safe glue for everything from fallen cake crumbs to broken pie crust.

Another exciting learning experience was when the pears in the almond cream pear cake ended up at the top of the cake instead of sinking toward the bottom where they were supposed to land. The entire cake was a brown color that it had never been before. After much Sherlock Holmesing I discovered that the almond cream, when mixed just a little too long, breaks down and infiltrates through the cake batter turning it a deeper color and changing the texture so that the pears are suspended at the top!

Next session is projected to be the last two weeks of July. I'll be leaving my knitting at home! And now on to the copy editing of the 760 page manuscript which is why you won't be hearing much from me for the next few weeks!

(More photos on the full post page)

Spun Sugar Nests

Assistant Jeanine's Brilliant Emergency Angel Food Cake Cooling Device


my guess is that you used more of the fruit than called for and used volume rather than weight right? because by weight for the fruit that amount of thickener always has worked for me. another possibility is that the fruit this year has more moisture due to all the rain so might need some extra cornstarch!


This is a first for me sending a comment, so I hope I am doing this right. I made two pies yesterday, from the pie bible-one blueberry and one rhubbarb. Although they were delicious, they both were too soupy. The crust was delicious, the blueberry filling and rhubbarb filling was really good, but too much juice. What should I do? Or what am I doing wrong? thank you in advance for answering. Meg Shaw


Me too - I freeze cream cheese all the time; other cheeses and butter too.


i freeze cream cheese with great success!


Barbara, I second the motion to your perfect words.

When making pastry and breads, flour type is so vital. Also when making butter cakes. There is no such thing as an All Purpose thing!

I always have a little cream cheese frozen in my freezer, it says not to freeze creme cheese, but it works for me. The amount is so little on the pie crust, but so revolutionary.

I also add a little vinegar as the recipe says in one of the many versions published.

Rose has said to use 100% Wondra flour on this crust, try it.


I love Rose's Cream Cheese Pie Crust recipe and have made it both ways. It will be great either way! I agree the version with cream is just a bit more wonderful but if you don't have any cream on hand, go ahead with the original version.

I do have one comment -- if you normally use unbleached flour in baking, as I do, be sure to use mostly pastry flour for this recipe rather than than all-purpose. Or handle the dough VERY gently. Otherwise your crust may end up nice and flaky, but tough. The water in the cream cheese develops the gluten too much.

One of the things I've learned from Rose's books is the importance of paying attention to the type of flour you are using. I now know why a lot of my earlier attempts at butter cakes didn't work well with unbleached flour -- while with pastry, I learned I could do just fine once I got my hands on some unbleached pastry flour.

Have fun!


cream is the new improved version!


andrew demarco
andrew demarco
05/21/2008 08:56 PM

I'm a newbie so please forgive me for asking a question often answered. i got the tender cream cheese pie recipe from this website. i was so impressed i bought the bible. now i'm in a quandry as the recipes for cream cheese crust on the website and in the bible are different! which do i go with? one uses heavy cream & one uses ice water. help!


Cecelia, I have the same happening when making cakes from the Cake Bible: people go for second servings!



I may be too late, but I wanted to give you my experience. I made my nephew's wedding cake last November using Rose's White Chocolate Whisper Cake. One tier had a lemon curd filling, one tier had a raspberry jam filling and the top tier had lemon curd. I made the cakes in advance, brushed them with a light sugar water then filled them. I used Rose's White Chocolate Mousseline frosting. I frosted and decorated the cakes the day before and kept them in my fridge. They sat out just long enough during the ceremony to come to room temperature - perfect! The cakes were my best. Everyone loved the cake, fillings and frosting. Most people had several servings, trying both fillings and there was almost no cake left over. You can't go wrong with lemon and raspberry. Good luck!


hector, in response to your oven question, the studio just had ONE and it was a commercial style but nothing special. there wasn't wiring provided for a second which we sorely could have used!


Just a quick note, that there are commercial products out there for heavy cream, that you can whip and whip and whip and never breaks or becomes grainy!

But you really don't want to read what ingredients it contains, and if I am not mistaken: cream isn't one of the listed ingredients.

Glad Rose is using the real thing, as you can see the cartons and cartons on the picture above.


Sweetness is something personal! You will need to whip a small batch and taste it on a piece of cake.

If this helps, lemon is raspberry's best friend and flavor enhancer.


Thanks for your input Hector. Now I need more! I made a yellow butter cake (2-12inch and 2-8 inch) I really want to assemble the day before (early party the next day.) I like the contrast of lemon and raspberry. Now i am thinking of just using store bought rasp preserves and my lemon buttercream. Do you think that would work? Too sweet? Should I mix the raspberry into the lemon buttercream (just for two layers) Any ideas? Wish that I could use fresh fruit but there is no time to assemble the cake the day of.

Thanks for your help,


Jennifer, were do you plan to apply the lemon curd? as filling, plus or not a layer of buttercream?

I would place the raspberries on the same day (not in advance) as they can wilt when in contact with high sugar media (like frosting or curd) or when exposed unwrapped in the refrigerator.

When I use lemon curd as filling and also buttercream, I like to whip the lemon curd with the butterream, and thus the filling would be a lemon buttercream, this will not break down into the cake as buttercream is holding the lemon curd and the fat makes things waterproof.


I want to use lemon curd, raspberries and lemon classic butter cream on a two tiered butter wedding cake. I would like to frost the cake a day in advance but am worried about the curd and berries breaking down and making the cake soggy. What would you recommend?

Thank you for any suggestions.


Thanks so much for including us in the production process, it is fascinating! I'm excited about the two cakes mentioned in this post (the Charlotte being styled for the camera, and the pear almond cream cake), they both sound like potential favorites. I'm really looking forward to getting the new book!
Best Wishes,


Oh, I want to point out that if you look closely at the refrigerator picture, there are many lemons zested! Most times lemon zest is for flavor more than anything of texture a photo could capture. Why go with the trouble of using zest during food photography?

Once Rose told me, that all the pictures she has on her books, are the real thing.


Glad to know that the FIRST picture you are sharing is of a cake with the same pattern of your Ethereal Pear Charlotte. Great continuity, knowing it is maybe the best recipe on Cake Bible.

Question: what oven did you have in the photo studio? I was thinking on a Cadco oven, quarter or half sheet size? Or did you rent a commercial convection oven (the ones with the side-by-side doors, so popular nowadays.


I love your updates on the production process of the book, Rose. Keep 'em coming! Especially those styling secrets :-) This whole account of the book's 2-3 year journey would make a great addendum to the book itself.


ok richard--you asked for it! actually i already had the wedding cake batter weights but since woody has been keeping track of all the two layer cake weights as well i'm going to add it thanks to your request. and besides, i want it for myself!


Matthew - Yes, thanks for the link. Stunning photos indeed!

Hector - I love your world cake art work too!

Lola - I get heavy cream in quart containers at Costco, but most warehouse clubs carry them.


Heavy cream in quart containers??? Why do I never see this at the local grocery stores?


Hector, I'm curious to see what the end result will be. Love the pic of the Rose world cake in the background.


Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with us Rose. I just looked at Liz's website (thanks for the link Matthew) and it is very impressive. The pictures are stunning!
Can't wait for the new book. Is it 2009 yet?????????


Utterly stunning, and assuring to know that you are working with the absolute best team. It makes me wonder how much your new book will sell for!

A little bit of aloha here:



Liz has a great website--I'm sure the photos are going to be stunning. I wonder how she shapes whipped cream so beautifully?



Haha - I love how the refrigerator door is stocked with 10 quarts of heavy cream and only 1 quart of fat-free milk!


Thanks so much Rose - it's so nice to get a peak behind the scenes!


Hi there. This is a fascinating process. I have one comment / question: one thing that has been invaluable to me when perusing the CIA's "Baking and Pastry: The Art and Craft" (an excellent book) is that they indicate how much batter in grams to scale into each pan. Knowing about how much batter should go into each pan has been so valuable to me that I've taken to calculating it from the total of your recipie's ingredients weight (and recognizing that due to mixing loss, etc. I should have slightly less better per pan then the total "per pan" weight).

Please, include an "amount per pan" weight in your next book!




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